Testing the latest web browsers on Ubuntu

Recently Mozilla Firefox version 3.5 was released, but Ubuntu 9.04 a.k.a. Jaunty Jackalope which was released in April still uses Firefox 3.0 because of Ubuntu’s policy to distribute only bug and security fixes after a stable release. Meanwhile, the next release of GNOME will include the first version of Epiphany to use the WebKit layout engine instead of the Gecko layout engine. The Midori web browser is interesting as well, it uses WebKit too but it’s not strictly meant for GNOME, even though it does use the GTK+ toolkit and integrates in GNOME reasonably.

If you’d like to use 3.5 like me, and if you also want to check out how Epiphany and Midori have progressed, there fortunately is an easy way to download and install them on Ubuntu 9.04. You can simply use the Personal Package Archives (PPA’s) of the Ubuntu packagers. Here you can find the PPA for the stable version of Firefox 3.5. When you have enabled the repository and reloaded the software sources, make sure to install the firefox-3.5, firefox-3.5-branding and firefox-3.5-gnome-support packages and the dependencies those packages require. For some reason these Firefox 3.5 packages also depend on the Firefox 3.0 packages in the standard Ubuntu repository, so you can’t get rid of Firefox 3.0. Frequently updated (apparently they are daily builds) development version packages of WebKit, Epiphany and Midori can be found in the WebKit PPA, the Epiphany PPA and the Midori PPA. You need to have the WebKit PPA repository enabled if you want to use Epiphany or Midori. The installation instructions are simple, and can be found by following the ‘Read about installing’ link on the PPA pages. Ubuntu’s PPA’s are awesome for enabling us to get the development versions of software so easily.

When the final version of GNOME 2.28 will be released along with Epiphany 2.28 and they have shipped in October with Ubuntu 9.10, a.k.a. Karmic Koala, I will post a detailed comparison of the three browsers.

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